I have a fun exercise that will demonstrate why we need to write down our meal plans and any food we eat during the week. Our memories are really just illusion, just stories our brains build to make sense of the world. The brain does not take pictures. According to the motivational triangle our brains have evolved to do its work with the least amount of energy. It translates our experiences into memories by taking the images our eyeballs focus on, tag them to past experiences and create a story from preexisting stored information. Brain memory storage and retrieval has no similarities with CDs or DVDs. There is no tape recorder inside our heads much as we like to think so. However, there are a lot of cognitive biases that help us efficiently deal with all the stimulation the world throws at us. Our meal plans help us make weight loss progress despite the Illusion of Memory.
Read the following list of words and do your best to place them in your memory:
• bed, rest, awake, tired, dream, wake, snooze, blanket, doze, slumber, snore, nap, peace, yawn, drowsy.
Now, keep reading the next paragraphs and later I will ask you to recall the words.
When we stop losing weight, hit a plateau, or gain weight it is super helpful to have a meal plan to evaluate. We will be able to clearly see what needs to be improved. We don’t want to judge ourselves harshly; we just want to improve the data!
What VALUE can we extract from the meal plan and weight data? Extracting patterns from the data helps makes sense of the results for the week!
Look at the meal plan path you took last week.
See where the detours took place, overeats or food eaten off plan.
These detours are stimulating and painless in the moment. We are easily justifying them. However, they are taking away from our weight loss.
Let’s start facing WHY we are overeating before we do it. The list of emotions you wrote down that you feel BEFORE you eat are a clue to your WHY!
Documenting overeats EACH TIME THEY HAPPEN makes us realize how often we are doing it. We can turn off a lot of overeats by just becoming aware of them. It gives us the option of CHOOSING to stop overeating AS YOU ARE DOING IT instead of unconsciously continuing to eat well past the time your hunger has been satisfied.
Last thought for this week:
Food cannot make us emotionally FEEL a certain way. It does not have the ability to comfort us, entertain us, or keep us stress free – all this nonsense happens inside our head. What food has the direct ability to do is make us nauseated, fill our stomachs, make our intestines work, turn on our digestive system, get stuck in our teeth, stimulate our taste buds, make our breath smell, give us gas, give us stomach bloat, result in poop that is regular, too thin or too thick, and make us fart!
Food cannot comfort our minds. FOOD IS ONLY FUEL FOR THE BODY.
Now, without looking at the words listed earlier, write down the words from the list that you can remember. No worries if you can’t recall more than a few.
Take a look at the list of words you recalled. Does it contain the word “sleep?” About 40 percent of people doing this exercise will recall having seen the word “sleep.”
If you are one of those people you are probably as confident about having seen “sleep” as you are about any of the other words you remembered. You might even have a distinct recollection of seeing it on the list…. but it wasn’t there… your brain fabricated it! Go ahead and look back at the list if you don’t believe it. This is because your mind, in trying to recall the words, made an association of all the words in the list having to do with “sleep”; your memory “recalled” a word that was never there.
This is why we do written meal plans. Our memory is influenced by cognitive biases and may not remember overeating episodes accurately. After all, if we think and feel overeating is negative our brain will avoid keeping the painful thought. Our brains are going to inaccurately “remember” the meals we ate because it is doing what it has evolved to do – be efficient with its energy output while building memories and avoid creating pain-generating memories.
Let’s work together on another great week of sleeping, watering, eating when hungry, stopping when satisfied and planning,